By Erin Lee
Genre: LBGT/ Contemporary
Age category: Young Adult
Release Date: 29 June, 2017
Based on Erin Lee’s novella, Her Name Was Sam, Freak is the story of Kelly and Morgan, the mother and sister of Sam Harris, in the aftermath of her suicide. Bullied for being brave enough to show her true colors to the world, Sam has been gone exactly one year and Kelly and Morgan are left to tackle the grief that comes with regret in her absence.
But Sam’s story is far from over…
Through the love of Willow, a teenager intent on standing up for her “Freak” best friend at all costs, Ryan is able to finally come out to family and friends. His transformation from ashamed to proud with Willow’s help gives new meaning to Sam’s story and how things could have been.
Because love comes in all shades too.
I stand in a sea of color. It’s so bright, so real, that I feel like I could almost reach out and taste it. I imagine it tastes like summer’s fat watermelon slices or the Fourth of July. But my mouth is dry. Even if I could, I wouldn’t take a bite. I have too much guilt. The only reason I’m standing here is because I helped kill my daughter. If I’m totally honest with you, and with myself, I would never be standing here if Sam hadn’t done what she did.
She asked me to come with her to this very parade so many times. I told her there was no way I’d be caught dead marching down the streets like this. I tried to convince her it was just a phase. I told her to keep an open mind; the very thing she was asking of me. I said she was just curious and experimenting. I even tried to tell her it was all a normal part of growing up. But deep down, I knew. I knew exactly what was going on with her. I also knew how important it was to her that I support her. I just wasn’t ready. I couldn’t see myself as “that” mom. The last thing I wanted to have was pride.
I couldn’t understand why she couldn’t be normal. I felt like she was only doing it to punish me. I’d watch her, getting dressed in wild patterns and heels so high I was sure she’d twist an ankle. She’d put on so much make-up it reminded me of a circus clown. I told her so. I told her to take off the mask. She glared at me, telling me I didn’t understand.
It’s ironic that I’m here now. Being at the rainbow parade is a horrible consolation prize. I only want my daughter back. I’d go to a parade like this one every year for the rest of my life if I could change things. I’d even have pride: In her. In me. In a million things I wouldn’t have done so awfully wrong. Pride in the things I’d do over right.
I wonder what she thinks of me today and almost hope there’s no afterlife. I admit it, I’m a hypocrite. I should have been here years ago. I should have done whatever it took to support her. But there are no do overs. At least, I don’t think.
Sam believed in reincarnation. She’s probably too busy living another, better life, to be paying attention. If she is, I know she’s rolling her eyes. She’d say, “Finally, Mom’s here.”
The ironic thing is, I couldn’t not be here. I am, after all, a conspirator. Maybe I can help some other mother from suffering the same fate. Sam always used to say, “Everything happens for a reason.”
I can’t imagine a good enough reason for her suicide. But there were many. I might have been able to stop her, had I listened. I didn’t listen when she told me how bad the bullying had become. I didn’t take her seriously or buy her the new dresses and make-up she asked for. I told her she needed to see a therapist and to stop trying to change who she was. I said that she needed to focus on school and ignore everyone around her. I told her she was too young to date and that the only thing that would solve her problems was prayer. I told her that maybe she was just bisexual or gay. I told her it was no big deal and that she had plenty of time to figure it out. And, then, I told myself I was being open minded. The truth was, my mind was entirely closed and we both knew it. I even asked her what the neighbors might think.
Sure, there were warning signs. I should have paid closer attention when her grades dropped and she stopped attending band practice. I should have known something was wrong when she burnt her journals in the backyard. I let her give her trumpet and flute away. Instead, I wrote it off to teen angst and told myself she was only going through a phase. I painted over her pink walls and made them blue. I figured it might help her rethink things.
It’s probably a good thing that I can’t hear myself think over the noise. A man wearing white leggings and rainbow leg warmers has a gold horn on his head. His Mohawk is dyed every color of the rainbow. I think he’s supposed to be a unicorn. I try not to wince as he spins and twirls and prances by. I tell myself at least his mother has him alive.
Someday, I hope to be able to smile with him. I hope to be able to look past the glitter and overt cries of ‘pride.’ For now, I need to just be here, part of it, and try. Three young girls, with their arms locked together, march beside me. Their faces are painted red and I wonder what it symbolizes. They laugh and smile and I have to make myself look away. It’s too late…
About the Author
Erin Lee is a freelance writer and therapist chasing a crazy dream one reality at a time. She is the author of Crazy Like Me, a novel published in 2015 by Savant Books and Publications, LLC, Wave to Papa, 2015, by Limitless Publishing, LLC and Nine Lives (2016). She’s also author of Alters, Host, and Merge of the “Lola, Party of Eight Series,” When I’m Dead, Take Me As I Am, Greener, Something Blue, Once Upon a Vow and 99 Bottles. She also penned Her Name Was Sam, an LGBTQ awareness novella. She is author of Losing Faith, and co-author of The Morning After with Black Rose Writing. These days, she spends her free time working on the sequels to this novel, Jimmie’s Ice Cream and Thing Fifteen.
Lee is a co-founder of the Escape From Reality Series. She, along with authors Sara Schoen and Taylor Henderson, are working with twenty other authors to bring the hopes, dreams, fears and terrors of a tiny fictional town alive. The town and its setting is exactly the type of place a man like Jimmie might escape to as the bodies thawed.
Lee holds a master’s degree in psychology and works with at-risk families and as a court appointed special advocate. She cannot write horror with the lights off. However, these days, she’s getting braver and dimming them. She’ll get there . . .
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